When I Were A
by Sandra Crook
The bowl of fruit
stood on the table between us, inviting
Two shiny red
apples nestled beneath a banana, as yet unflecked
by brown spots. And to the side, a plump bunch of
purple grapes, edged nestled up to the hairy
silhouettes of half a dozen kiwi fruit.
Dad eyed it
know, our Shee, that I were twelve year old
before I saw my first banana?
an old joke, Dad
seventy nine now, and can honestly say Ive
never seen hairy bollocks like those before,
nodding at the kiwi fruit.
The boys looked up
expectantly, whilst Sophie giggled.
Dad? I offered, picking up the teapot.
its that Earl Grey muck, he said.
Dont you have any plain Yorkshire tea?
what I gave you, Dad.
were a source of mixed feelings. On the one hand,
I didnt have to trail 150 miles up the A1
and back in the day, but on the other, I did have
seven days of relentless when I were a
with us to the swimming baths, Grandad?
asked my youngest.
say I am, said Dad, Ive brought
dont think you should
but he cut across me.
start, our Shee, Im not decrepit you know.
At the baths, Dad
disappeared into the changing rooms with the boys
whilst I helped Sophie change. When we reappeared,
Dad was already parading up and down the poolside,
his knitted woolly trunks offering a montage that
could solidly compete with the fruit bowl at home.
hes become, I thought, studying his
stick-like limbs, dotted with the bruise marks of
age, and his narrow chest, festooned in cobweb-like
Get in the
pool, Grandad, shouted Gareth, the eldest
boy, clearly embarrassed.
For a moment, I
thought Dad might jump in, but thankfully he
shambled to the steps at the shallow end. Gareth
struck out for the deep end, obviously needing to
put some distance between himself and his Grandad,
whilst Mikey, seeing only a play opportunity, dog-paddled
gamely across towards him.
I walked round to
the side of the pool where Dad was already
shivering in the water.
Are you sure
you should be doing this, Dad? I called.
He shot me a look
of pure malevolence and struck out in an awkward
straight-armed crawl across the pool, Mikey in
like youre drowning, Grandad, he
When I were
Dad began, before suddenly
disappearing beneath the water with a horrified
Fully clothed I
leapt into the pool.
Diving down, I was
greeted with the sight of Dads narrow
shanks snaking along the pool floor in pursuit of
his woolly swimming trunks which, softened and
elongated by the water, had shimmied down his
legs and were floating off to the deep end as
though possessing a life of their own.
The pool attendant
was not amused when he dragged me out coughing
and spluttering, and even less so when Dad
refused to leave the water until someone located
his swimming trunks.
That was so
embarrassing, complained Gareth later.
nothing, son, said Dad proudly, you
should have seen me when I were a lad.